NCTE Presidential Team addresses letter to membership regarding book access and censorship in advance of the 2023 NCTE Annual Convention - National Council of Teachers of English

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NCTE believes that all students have the right to materials and educational experiences that promote open inquiry, critical thinking, diversity in thought and expression, and respect for others. These principles are as important to us now as they have always been. Censorship of any kind, whether intentional or unintentional, direct or indirect, inhibits students’ exercise of this right.

NCTE also recognizes that teachers and librarians are deeply impacted and often placed in unfortunate positions in asserting the rights of young people to select texts reflective of their identities, communities, and interests. These rights are critical to building the global citizenship and critical thinking required to create better tomorrows.

Last week, two members of the Presidential Team and our Executive Director met with Scholastic’s CEO, Peter Warwick, to discuss our objections to their book separation policy and to censorship as a whole. Although Scholastic retracted their policy prior to our meeting, we felt it was still important to express the concerns we have heard from you, our members, as well as the concerns we have had as NCTE’s leaders. In doing so we emphasized that publishers should never acquiesce to the work of policymakers and others who are making laws and regulations that promote censorship and compromise the values of NCTE.

Our conversations were direct and candid. Normally, NCTE has no role in business decisions made by other entities, including Scholastic Book Fairs. However, when it comes to limiting book access and censorship, we must stand on our published positions and deeply held commitments around intellectual freedom. We also encouraged Scholastic to join our intellectual freedom work as a financial contributor, given their stated pledge to redouble their work to fight censorship.

What has recently transpired should summon the stamina and fortitude of others in the publishing community to reject any action that compromises book access and intellectual freedom. Bending business practices or literacy programs to the will of censors is a slippery slope that compromises intellectual freedom. We cannot carry the censors’ work forward. NCTE does not support actions by anyone who promotes the segregation of books and/or limits student agency to select books. We stand steadfast against such practices.

For 90 years, Scholastic has held the M. R. Robinson Dinner. This tradition has recognized the incredible work and expertise of literacy teachers with a Thanksgiving-style meal. Scholastic’s appreciation and support for educators has always been felt at the NCTE Annual Convention. This year, Scholastic has decided that, in lieu of hosting the M. R. Robinson dinner, the company will redirect the costs associated with the dinner to the NCTE Intellectual Freedom Center. At this year’s Convention and beyond, NCTE will add new programming to the Saturday evening slot.

NCTE’s intellectual freedom work will continue to grow, as will our close work with the NCTE Standing Committee Against Censorship and the various national coalitions in which NCTE invests considerable resources.

Later this week, we will announce the NCTE members selected to form the inaugural cohort of the NCTE Teacher Corps. Their expertise will increase the number of book rationales available to our members. Many teachers applied to participate, and we plan to grow this program in the next year. In addition, we ask that you consider sharing your current experiences so that we can continue to evolve our programming to ensure access to books and assist teachers and librarians. To gather such insights, we have created this form for you to share your thoughts. 



María E. Fránquiz, President
Shelley Rodrigo, President-Elect
Tonya B. Perry, Vice President
Valerie Kinloch, Past President
Antero Garcia, Incoming Vice President
Emily Kirkpatrick, Executive Director


The National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) is the nation’s professional organization for literacy teachers spanning preK–college. Through the expertise and advocacy from its members’ professional research, practice, and knowledge, NCTE has served at the forefront of every major improvement in the teaching and learning of English and the language arts since 1911.